According to Chinese media 36Kr, Didi’s autonomous freight business “KargoBot” – initiated in 2021 – has now become an independent operating company, and has received over CNY 450 million in investment from the Erdos Group and other capitals. In addition, Wei Junqing, the head of Didi’s autonomous driving innovation business, has been appointed as the CEO of KargoBot.
At this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, Wei Junqing explained that the consideration for developing autonomous driving freight services stems from the significant scale of bulk logistics transportation in the industry, concentrated routes, and the increasing shortage of freight drivers. These factors make it relatively suitable to combine with autonomous driving technology for business development.
In April, 2023, Didi’s autonomous driving division announced for the first time that it has expanded its Level 4 autonomous driving passenger vehicle solution to the field of long-haul logistics and freight with KargoBot, and has already started trial operations between Northwest China and North China.
On October 10th this year, KargoBot’s pre-installed L4 autonomous trucks obtained the Road Test Notification for Autonomous Driving Trucks in Beijing’s Intelligent Connected Vehicle Policy Pilot Zone. They have been granted permission to conduct public road testing on open roads in Beijing. This comes after KargoBot’s retrofit models received the Intelligent Connected Vehicle Road Test License in Beijing in 2022.
KargoBot adopts a “hybrid intelligent mode”, which allows one truck driver to simultaneously “operate” 2 to 6 vehicles, meaning that one driver leads multiple fully autonomous L4-capable trucks.
At present, KargoBot has a total of 150 autonomous heavy trucks, mainly used for transporting coal and other bulk commodities in the northwest and north China regions.